We sat down with Dondra Ritzenthaler — avid traveler, mother of two and the Senior Vice President of Sales, Trade Support & Service for Celebrity Cruises — and asked why her cruise line checks all the right boxes for family vacations.


Why is cruising in general such a great idea for family vacations?

Dondra Ritzenthaler: What makes cruising so special for families is that it gives kids and parents time to be both together and apart. There are so many great things kids can do — like all the activities organized through the Camps at Sea — giving mom and dad a much-needed break. But they can still many activities together, along with dining and watching our amazing shows together. Plus, when you go on a cruise, kids actually learn a lot. Travel is such a great opportunity for education, and often the kids are having so much fun they don’t realize they’re learning too.


Why should families choose Celebrity Cruises in particular?

DR: We truly offer a new luxury experience, so it’s easy to see how mom, dad and the grandparents will love it. But kids love it too! These are the kids who are used to going to the Ritz Carlton and the Four Seasons, kids who order escargot over chicken nuggets, and they love being on Celebrity Cruises.

Another thing that makes Celebrity Cruises special is our Camp at Sea program. It’s focused around STEM activities, so kids have a great time learning new things. We have science projects like putting Mentos in a Coke to understand why it spews everywhere. It’s a fun way of learning that fits in well with how these families are used to vacationing.

Tell me more about Celebrity’s kids and teens programs?

DR: We have over 500 STEM, art, recreation and culinary activities that kids can choose from. 500! We have tech-based programming that includes drone activities and a laser maze — the kids love that. We also have fun family activities that bring everyone together, like a scavenger hunt where the family goes through the whole ship to find things. It’s a more personalized and intimate way to make incredible new memories with your kids.


As a mother, what do your kids love best when you take them onboard a Celebrity ship?

DR: Now that they’re 21 and 20, they love to do the things they’ve been watching the adults do over the years, like playing against the crew at water volleyball, which is a big highlight. But over the years, they’ve loved sports-based activities like the soccer and basketball competition, and learning how to use their iPhones differently during tech classes. They learned how to make sushi for the first time on a ship, and also how to be a DJ. And while it’s all about learning and education — it’s fun!


Does Celebrity have any new family-focused features coming out in the future, possibly on the Celebrity Beyond?

DR: We have a partnership with Frost Science, which is on all of our ships but will be particularly special on Edge-class ships like Beyond. That will have the laser maze and digital archery competitions — they actually shoot digital arrows at targets — which will surely be a highlight.

What suites or staterooms do you recommend for families on a Celebrity ship?

DR: There’s no question that the Penthouse Suite or Iconic Suite — with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and can sleep six people — is the best experience for families. We also have balcony staterooms with adjoining balconies, so the parents can stay in one, the kids in the other, and they can all easily visit each other by walking through the shared balcony.


What options do families have to feel safer on a shore excursion?

DR: When you go to Alaska or anywhere else, you can take a typical shore excursion with a group of fellow passengers. But we also offer Private Journeys — just you and your family go on the excursion, with your own transportation and guide — and these are becoming extremely popular as we navigate our modern world. These are totally personalized, so you can leave when you want and stay at places longer if you wish.


What are some of your favorite shore excursions you’ve enjoyed with Celebrity in Alaska?

DR: One of my favorites from our last Alaska cruise was in Seward. It was a 12-hour excursion called the Kenai Fjords Cruise and Sea Life Center. At the sea center, you got to see these animals really up close — we all loved that. It was so authentic. Later, at Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords Natural Park, we got to see whales and marine life in their natural habitat. So amazing.

Another favorite was at Icy Strait Point, where there’s a huge zipline my kids loved. The setting there is simply amazing — it’s not like ziplining at your local waterpark. The Alaska Sled Dogs –these dogs thrive on these sleds. They love to run. We played with the baby huskies first, and then we went on a sled ride with these beautiful, strong, amazing huskies. So much fun.

For whale watchers, we had whales breaching literally right next to the boat in Juneau on a Luxury Whale Watching Tour. It’s funny; it was almost as if the whales were on cue, because they were always there. We actually thought they would tip the boat over … that’s how close they were. When you’re that close to a whale leaping from the water, it takes your breath away. That’s the kind of thing you’re still talking about 10 years later. It’s literally something you will remember for the rest of your life.

Contact our agency to plan your family adventure.